Just a short post today, to share a great article with you. Francis Thompson’s How I made sure all 12 of my kids could pay for college themselves is an excellent read. His final sentences – “We were and are not our kids’ best friends. We were their parents.” – are key. And so many of the points he made rang true to me. Much of it sounds like my own childhood (although I was one of four, not twelve), other than the sports and activities section. My own parents took the opposite position on that one, limiting extracurricular activities significantly so that family time was kept as the priority. As we got older, extracurricular activities were added in, but always in small quantities. Our kids are still very young, so it hasn’t really been an issue for us yet. Our plan is to look at activities on a case-by-case basis, balancing our kids’ interests with our own desire to not overload our schedules (our own or our kids’) and our belief that unstructured time (assuming a TV is not involved) is great for both kids and adults.
But most of the article sounds just like how I was raised. Homework came first. DIY was a major part of our life (my parents were forever buying run-down houses and we all worked together to fix them up). We had to demonstrate that we could change the oil and a tire on the car before getting a drivers license. We knew from a very early age that obtaining scholarships or looking into student loans to pay for college was one of our top priorities, and our efforts were encouraged along the way by my parents (all four of us have college educations, funded primarily by scholarships). We were also encouraged to set up our own bank accounts at an early age, saving money throughout our childhood to pay for college. When I was seven, college seemed like an eternity away. Today, ten years seems like the blink of an eye. It is never too early to start encouraging kids to save and plan for the future.
Parenting is certainly not an easy job. There’s a magnet on my fridge that says “Peace Corps: The toughest job you’ll ever love.” I agreed, until I became a parent. Parenting is definitely harder, but even more rewarding. And we’re constantly learning as we go. I feel fortunate that both my husband and I had strong role models in our own parents, giving us a good starting point. But we’re still figuring all of this out, just like all the other parents I know. Thompson is obviously a seasoned veteran when it comes to parenting, but even he notes that they made plenty of mistakes along the way. But articles like his are a great reminder of what we need to do for our kids (teach them how to live life to its fullest and handle whatever life throws at them) and what we don’t need to do (buy them everything they want, do everything for them, fret about upsetting them, etc.).
I hope you guys find it as helpful and inspiring as I did!